Millennium Post

CAA: Centre mulls making process of granting citizenship online

New Delhi: The Centre is likely to make the entire process of granting citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act online to bypass states, some of which are dead set against the new legislation, officials said on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is mulling the option of doing away with the present procedure of routing applications for citizenship through the district magistrate in view of the strong opposition expressed by several states, including Kerala which on Tuesday passed a resolution in the Assembly demanding scrapping of the controversial Act. "We are thinking of designating a new authority instead of the district magistrate and make the entire process of application, examination of documents and granting Indian citizenship online," a Home Ministry official said.

If the process becomes completely online, there will be no intervention from a state government at any level.

Besides, the home ministry officials are of the opinion that the state governments have no power to reject the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.

"The states have no power to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List," the top official from the Home Ministry said.

There are 97 items which are under the Union List that include Defence, External Affairs, Railways, Citizenship and Naturalisation.

According to the amended Citizenship Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Act says refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of 11 years earlier.

The act also proposes to give immunity to such refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants.

The Kerala Assembly had on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the controversial Act, amid raging countrywide protests against the legislation. The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF supported the resolution while the BJP's lone MLA and former Union minister O Rajagopal's was the only dissenting voice in the one-day special session.

A number of chief ministers, including those of West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, had already announced that the law is "unconstitutional" and has no place in their respective state.

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